Tagged diversity

The Myth that Lawyers Believe in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

In case you missed it, the Law Society of Ontario now requires lawyers to prepare and embrace a ‘Statement of Principles‘ regarding diversity in their practices.  I have been critical of the initiative because, at the end of the day, it requires no more than yet another act of lip service to fix real diversity deficits in the senior bar and judiciary of Ontario in relation to the public they serve. At the end of the day, most law firms and public legal institutions already have diversity mission statements and accommodation policies as good as any drawn up by our…

Diversity Awareness and Cultural Competency as Core Skills for Canadian Lawyers

Later today, I will have the privilege of participating in a working group of the Chief Justice of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism tasked with modernizing the basic principles of professionalism for lawyers.  High in priority is the importance of integrating equity, diversity and cultural competency into the package that lawyers must offer the public. Historically an afterthought The equity and diversity file has historically been an afterthought, tucked into the discussion after other ‘Wonder Bread’ aspects of professional merit are given full airing.  This has been a fault of those leading the discussion.  It is time to turn the agenda…

Mentoring diverse professionals: Let history be the teacher

The most difficult part of mentorship is convincing the new members of our profession that they belong.  The reason why anyone belongs anywhere is a question of history.  Whose grandfather took the train to Toronto?  Whose parents were rescued from a refugee camp?  Whose ancestors were brought here against their will?  How you arrived in the Canadian legal profession concludes with your degree in law and a place among our nation’s lawyers.  It is a story you need to tell yourself, or have someone take an interest in having you tell it. In the October article in the Canadian Lawyer’s Accidental…

The Ambiguity of Merit ~ Le Mérite et son ambiguité

Is it earned? Or is it an entitlement?  We never quite get our mind around the concept of merit, although it is among the most recurring themes in Canadian law, and despite its importance to every lawyer’s career.  In this month’s Accidental Mentor column, the writer takes the plunge into the ambiguous meaning of merit.  Click on the image to read the article. Qu’est-ce ça veut dire, que l’on ‘mérite.’  Verbe transitif et non-transitif, et nom masculin terminé d’un ‘e’.  En droit canadien, la signification du mérite est soumise à des usages différents à différents points dans une carrière juridique. Malgré son importance…

Why the Rock needs a Law School

Archetypally, Newfoundlanders are the lawyers of Canada: proud, passionate, and fiercely loyal in temperament despite historically being the butt of bad jokes. Now, once again, Memorial University is considering a law school.  (Click on the Memorial logo – above right – to read the story.) A law school is a living monument to hope and the rule of law.  It is a statement that localism can co-exist with an international perspective.  It is so many things, but above all: a recognition that the lawyers trained in a distinct community can, through national mobility, add to the legal diversity and dialogue of…

Tackling Law’s Diversity Deficit in Multicultural Canada

Lack of diversity in law, in the world’s most multicultural city in the country the most welcoming of outsiders, continues to confound. In 2011, I met with the leaders of the American Bar Association during their annual conference in Toronto.  I was impressed with how more reflective of our general community the delegates were, compared to senior members of our bar.  They seemed to have got over the barrier from diversity as prototype to diversity as integral professional culture.  Even to the point that, it was pointed out to me, the seven members of the California Supreme Court included four…

Rethinking Lord Denning, M.R. – A newcomer’s perspective

Lord Denning’s decision in the “cricket balls” case of Miller v. Jackson, [1977] Q.B. 966 (C.A.), is required reading for every first year law student.  Read it again, now that you’re called to the bar, and see how the great judge weaves the xenophobic values of an island nation into the common law.  The judgment is the greatest legal teaching tool, and a dangerous introduction to the law.  Depending on the law teacher, it is either the beginning of modern Common Law discourse or an amusing example of judicial arrogance.  Denning remains on a pedestal for lawyers of prior generations.  In his…